Saturday, February 13, 2010


These photos were taken by my grandfather, Sam Strachan (or as he embellished it, Sam S. Strachan, though he had no middle name) when he took a scouting trip to "the fertile Swan River Valley." His father, Archibald Strachan, had moved the family from Kilmarnock, Scotland, to Faulkton, South Dakota, where he had intended to become a gentleman farmer in the style of Thomas Jefferson. Since he was a carpenter (though a very fine finish carpenter) he did NOT have the knack for farming. Sam, educated in Scotland, was the county superintendent of schools and married a teacher, Beulah Finney. Each of them "proved up" a homestead but it was tough to make a living there, even with four nearly grown children.

Following in the family pattern, Sam decided to go north.

This information is partly from Wikipedia.

Located in a valley between the Duck Mountains and the Porcupine Hills, the town of Swan River is close to the Saskatchewan boundary in west-central Manitoba.

The town is situated along the Swan River which flows into Swan Lake, believed to be named from the swans that frequent the lake. Henry Kelsey became the first European explorer to visit the area in 1690.The name of the lake is first noted on a map created by [Peter Fidler] in 1795 and again on a French map in 1802 (as L du Cigne). The first permanent settlement dates back to 1770 when fur traders from both the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company bought and sold goods by way of birch bark canoes. The Blackfeet from the east slope northern Montana traded with the Cree people who operated the canoe shuttles.

In 1876, the musical band of the North-West Mounted Police, the forerunner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, made its debut in what was later to become Swan River. The instruments used in the band were purchased by the 20 officers in the band and shipped from Winnipeg by dog sled.

The first pioneers arrived in the Swan Valley through the Duck Mountains in 1897 and quickly developed the farming potential of the area. The proposed construction of a line of the Canadian Northern Railway was announced in 1898 and the town was founded in 1900 though it was little more than a post office at the time. Swan River was officially incorporated as a town in 1908.

The economic base of the town lies in agriculture and forestry along with support industries for same. Almost fifty percent of the surrounding area is under cultivation, most of which is seeded to cereal grain, oilseeds, and other specialty crops. There are also many mixed farms producing cattle, pigs, and farm-raised wild animals.

Provincial highway 83 goes south, crosses the border and transforms at Westhope, ND. into U.S. Route 83 and continues to the to the Mexican border near Brownsville, TX.

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